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Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3

The box is bigger and is slightly different in design, but the overall style is the same. The product name and lots of logotypes are on the face panel. The back panel of the box shows you a picture of the product and provides a description of some of its features.

We’ve got more accessories here. Besides those included with the two previous models, there is now a back-panel bracket with two USB 3.0 ports to be installed into a 3.5-inch bay of the system case.

Here is a full list of the accessories included with the mainboard:

  • Four SATA cables with metal connector locks, two with L-shaped locks and another two with straight ones;
  • A flexible bridge for two-way SLI graphics configurations;
  • Additional bracket for the system case 3-inch bay with two USB 3.0 ports;
  • I/O Shield for the back panel;
  • User manual;
  • A booklet with brief assembly instructions in 18 languages;
  • A leaflet warning the users that the board is incompatible with LGA1156 processors;
  • DVD disk with software and drivers;
  • “Dolby Home Theater” and “Gigabyte” logo stickers for the system case.

The Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3 is designed differently from the two previous models, yet it is as easy to use as them.

The CPU voltage regulator now incorporates as many as 20 power phases. Each cooling heatsink is secured with screws. They are all combined into a single whole by means of heat pipes. Take note that there are no hot components underneath the central heatsink. It just increases the total heat dissipation area of the cooling system deployed on the chipset and CPU voltage regulator. The mainboard is equipped with three graphics slots. The first two can work in 1x16 or 2x8 mode. The maximum speed of the third PCI Express 2.0 slot is x4 but it will work as x1 if there is an expansion card installed into either of the two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots. There is no COM port which was present on the two previous models. The onboard controllers are different, too. USB 3.0 is now supported by a Renesas (NEC) D720200F1 rather than EtronTech EJ168A whereas the IEEE1394 (FireWire) ports are based on a T.I. TSB43AB23 chip instead of the VIA VT6308P we've seen on the two mainboards above.

The mainboard now has a highlighted Power button and barely visible Reset and Clear CMOS buttons. Its current status is indicated by the line of four ACPI LEDs. The CPU VTT Phase Indicator LEDs will warn you if the CPU VTT voltage is above the norm, and there are six more Diagnostic LEDs in the key points of the mainboard to report any problems with your CPU, memory, HDD or expansion cards. This looks like the Q-LED system deployed on many ASUS mainboards. There are five fan connectors now, but only the two 4-pin ones allow controlling the speed of the connected fans depending on temperature.

The back panel now offers more USB 3.0 and IEEE1394 (FireWire) ports. There are two eSATA/USB combo connectors which are as fast as 6 rather than 3 Gbps.

Here is a full list of the mainboard’s back-panel connectors:

  • PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse;
  • Optical and coaxial S/PDIF together with six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC889 codec;
  • Eight USB 2.0 ports including one eSATA/USB Combo, six more are laid out as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) implemented via Renesas (NEC) D720200F1 controller and VLI VL810 hub; a second VLI VL810 hub provides two additional internal pin-connectors for four more USB 3.0 ports;
  • Two eSATA/USB Combo 6 Gbps ports implemented via Marvell 88SE9128 controller;
  • Two IEEE1394 (FireWire) ports implemented via T.I. TSB43AB23 controller;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built around Gigabit Realtek RTL8111E controller).

So, the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD5-B3 has more features and faster interfaces than the two previous products and I like it a lot except for the barely visible Reset and Clear CMOS buttons. I didn’t even make them out at first, so small and inconveniently located they are. Moreover, the Clear CMOS button would be more helpful on the back panel where it might be accessible without taking the side panel of the system case off.

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